MANJE, Burma ̶ Relatives of the late Manam Gam, say that on February 2 the unarmed Kachin farmer was shot and killed near his paddy field in southern Kachin state by Burmese army soldiers who also seriously injured his wife. The fatal incident occurred in Han Htet village in Manje (or Mansi) township in Manmaw (Bhamo) district.
According to the man's relatives and several eyewitnesses, 50-year-old Manam Gam and his wife Lahkang Hkawn Mai, aged 32, were repeatedly shot at by an approaching Burmese army column engaged in an offensive against the Kachin Independence Army in the area. The couple was on their way to work in their rice paddy located near the scene of the fatal shooting.
Manam Gam died in hail of gunfire, his relatives later found at least eleven bullet shells at the scene of his death.
According to local villagers the soldiers responsible for the shooting belonged to the Meiktila-based Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) No. 113 under Central Regional Military Command.
The revelations about Manam Gam's death come this week as the head of Burma's newly created National Human Rights Commission told reporters in Bangkok on Tuesday that his organization would not investigate allegations of human rights abuses in Burma's conflict areas. The Irrawaddy Magazine quoted NHRC chairman Win Mra as saying that “to investigate into conflict areas would not be appropriate at this time.”
The decision not investigate reported human rights abuses in conflict areas leaves many questions unanswered about the seriousness to which NHRC wants carry out its mandate. Burma's conflict riddled ethnic areas are consistently cited by international human rights groups as the location of numerous acts of extrajudicial killings and sexual violence committed by Burmese troops.
Burma Army robs villagers to feed military horses in Manje (Mansi)
Local villagers in Manje township tell the Kachin News Group that Burmese soldiers based with the army's horse division in Balawng Dingsa in Manje township have been robbing rice from local Kachin civilians to feed army horses since late last year.
The area was previously under the control of Battalion 27 of the KIA's 3rd Brigade until it fell on November 28 last year to troops from the Burmese army's Meiktila-based Light Infantry Division No. 99.
Local villagers say that currently the horse battalion and about 100 soldiers from the LIB No. 417 are stationed at a base which was previously used by the KIA.
According to villagers in nearby Balawng Dingsa, troops have also confiscated rice from paddies in neighboring Kahtan Kawng and Prang Hkrem villages. Sources also say that in Kahtan Kawng village, rice belonging to four different families’ paddy fields was also confiscated earlier this month by soldiers.
Most civilians in these villages fled to safety along the Chinese border at Nongdao following the Burmese army's successful offensive in the Balawng Dingsa area in late November of 2011.